Eramo Trial Begins With Contention Over Exclusive ABC Interview

On Tuesday, the defense attorneys for Wenner Media, Rolling Stone, and Sabrin Rubin Erdely filed an emergency motion requesting injunctive relief against former UVa dean Nicole Eramo. The defense alleges that Eramo’s lawyers leaked confidential deposition footage to ABC 20/20.

Image courtesy ABC 20/20
Image courtesy ABC 20/20

Rolling Stone’s attorneys argue that the 20/20 special, which aired on October 14th, will influence the jury just three days before the widely publicized trial is set to begin. The hour-long program features the first interview Eramo has given since the infamous article, “A Rape on Campus,” was published. The motion requested that the court postpone the trial if the 20/20 episode airs as scheduled and demanded that Eramo’s legal team disclose which portions of testimony were leaked and any ways which Eramo endorsed the special. Eramo’s lawyers immediately objected to the motion, stating that the filmed deposition was not confidential. Libby Locke, Eramo’s attorney, argued that the protective order that made the material confidential only lasted for 30 days. After a month, an attorney must make a special request to keep the material confidential, which no defense attorney did.

The judge ruled that Eramo’s attorneys will not be able to show the jury a video of Erdely’s deposition during the trial because  the leak violated court rules.

Ex-Associate Dean Nicole Eramo has been in the spotlight since Rolling Stone magazine published the later debunked and retracted article “A Rape on Campus” in Fall 2014. Eramo’s widely publicized defamation suit against the author, the magazine and its parent company alleges that her reputation and future earning potential as a result of the article, which painted her as cold and insensitive toward the needs of the victim. Eramo now seeks $7.85 million in damages.

In September, a district court judge raised the bar for Eramo to prove defamation by labelling her as a “limited-purpose public figure,” meaning she must prove the defendants possessed actual malice, or reckless disregard for the truth, in publishing the article.

Jury selection was held on Monday morning at the federal court in Charlottesville. The jury is composed of eight women and two men. Seven will debate and three will be alternatives. Opening arguments will begin on Tuesday morning.


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